15 July 2019
Understanding and controlling collisions is crucial to the burgeoning field of ultracold molecules. All experiments so far have observed fast loss of molecules from the trap. However, the dominant mechanism for collisional loss is not well understood when there are no allowed 2-body loss processes. Here we experimentally investigate collisional losses of nonreactive ultracold 87Rb 133Cs molecules, and compare our findings with the sticky collision hypothesis that pairs of molecules form long-lived collision complexes. We demonstrate that loss of molecules occupying their rotational and hyperfine ground state is best described by second-order rate equations, consistent with the expectation for complex-mediated collisions, but that the rate is lower than the limit of universal loss. The loss is insensitive to magnetic field but increases for excited rotational states. We demonstrate that dipolar effects lead to significantly faster loss for an incoherent mixture of rotational states.
Ultracold polar molecules are an excellent platform for quantum science but experiments so far see fast trap losses that are poorly understood. Here the authors investigate collisional losses of nonreactive RbCs, and show they are consistent with the sticky collision hypothesis, but are slower than the universal rate.